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Waste sector could slash emissions

The reduction of municipal waste volumes could slash by 80% the greenhouse gas emitted by the waste sector across Europe by 2020, compared with late 1980 levels, a European Environment Agency (EEA) report has claimed.

The EEA says emissions could actually be reduced to 10 million tonnes if correct waste management policies are followed.

It said: The reduction will be driven by greater recycling volumes, increased amounts of waste recovery and incineration combined with energy production. Europes success in diverting waste away from landfill is also considered a key factor bringing down emissions.

Indeed, the report stressed that reducing municipal waste remains the preferred action for reinforcing past and future improvements in waste treatment, noting that decreasing current amounts could turn this sector into a sink, reducing total net greenhouse gas emissions.

It added: Restricting waste volumes delivers both immediate and long-term benefits to citizens, including reduced air pollution (with particles and nitrogen oxides) and less noise from collection and transport.

The problem, said the European Union agency is that waste production trends run counter to this strategy, with municipal waste set to grow 25% from 2005 to 2020. In 2005 emissions from waste management already represented 2% of EU's total greenhouse gas output, with methane, a greenhouse gas controlled by the Kyoto protocol, mostly generated by waste landfills.

As a result, the EEA really wants landfilling reduced, branding it the worst option for disposal, harming the environment and health. Incineration, with strong energy recovery and strict emission controls, plus recycling, are far preferable.


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